There were few dry eyes at the 14th annual Operation Smile Gala, which was held Thursday night at Manhattan’s Cipriani Dolce to raise money for children born with facial deformities.
“Operation Smile holds a very special place in my heart for a couple of reasons,” Kate Hudson began as she accepted the the universal smile award. “Operation Smile was my first experience witnessing how we can effect change. I was about 16 or 17 and my mother [Goldie Hawn] held an Operation Smile event in our backyard, and I’ll never forget meeting incredible doctors. Even as a young girl, getting an understanding of what it was they were providing for these children had a major impact on me.”
Husband and wife team, Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee, launched the organization in 1982, and have since helped hundreds of thousands of children around the world. Brooke Burke-Charvet, who served as master of ceremonies, has been actively involved with the organization for the past seven years.
“I pretty much do anything and everything they ask me to do,” Burke-Charvet said. “It’s a correctable deformity that takes less than an hour and $240. That’s really what got me hooked when I realized how little it takes for so many people, who can give, to change the lives of these children.”
Smile ambassador and NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, whose son Henry was born with a cleft lip, has been active in the organization for more than a decade. She described her time with the org as “the most soul-feeding thing I could do.”
“I’m grateful my son had this because it brings a whole thing into my life that I just love so much and I wouldn’t know otherwise,” Salke shared. “We can go into a town and change however many kids faces and see the tears flowing from those parents and know that you’ve just made a life-changing difference in someone’s life.”
The John Connor Humanitarian Award went to hotelier Andrew Dolce and the corporate humanitarian award went to the Mediterranean Shipping Company for their efforts in carrying supplies to Operation Smile medical centers around the globe.
Jaimie Alexander, Oliver Platt, Alisyn Camerota, Diego Klattenhoff, Colin Donnell, Yaya DaCosta, as well as musical duo A Great Big World and singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson attended.